In the hyper-connected, email-blasting, cloud-computing business world in which we function today, “face time” with prospects, employees, suppliers, distributors, and other business associates is still where the deal often “happens.”

Enjoying a business lunch while engaging an important individual (a representative of a key supplier, for example) often delivers intangible and very tangible benefits to your company. However, business lunches can get expensive. You can cut the cost of entertaining a business associate and not look like you’re cutting corners.

Let’s be honest. It’s good for business when the prospect enjoys a relaxed lunch or five-course dinner. A meal can be a small investment (and you enjoyed the Baked Alaska, too) that delivers signed purchase orders and contracts for new materials or expanded services.

Let’s cut some costs of business entertainment without stiffing the server by leaving a small tip.

First, if you can, choose the time for the business get-together, and always choose breakfast over lunch or dinner. Meeting at 9:00 am over coffee and croissants costs a few dollars. Go out to dinner, with a running bar tab, and client entertainment costs go up — WAY up! Go to breakfast or brunch and save on business entertainment costs.

Schedule a meeting at a local watering hole during happy hour. You’ll save a few dollars on making your new supplier happy, and at half the cost.

Don’t go to the latest hot spot – the one foodies are talking up. You may end up waiting for a booth and losing valuable face time if your restaurant choice doesn’t take reservations. Choose a tried and true favorite – one where you know the menu by heart – to avoid surprises that disrupt the conduct of business.

If you’re using a local bistro as your unofficial “office” talk to the restaurant owner about running a tab and getting discounted prices. You’re bringing in regular business to that restaurant, and a little discount will keep you coming back, as well as easing your meal costs.

Control the meal and the meeting. Choose the location, or offer a few pre-tested options to your meal partner. Use wait time to conduct business so you’re not listing product benefits just as dinner is served. Choreograph business discussions with each course. Take control.

Keep your eye out for restaurant promotions. BOGO (buy one, get one free) is a popular retail incentive. If the restaurant offers coupons, use them to cut the entertainment bill. If you don’t want to look like a tightwad, hand off the coupon to your server discreetly, then order dessert to close the deal.

Have lunch catered, or brought in. Bringing in lunch and focusing on work is productive without the distractions of eating out. Close off the conference room, have good deli food brought in, and stay focused on face time negotiations.

Entertaining business associates can be good for business. So, know the menu, know the client, schedule business discussions, and talk to the restaurant owner about discounts if you bring prospects in three times a week for lunch.

Bon appetit. Now let’s get down to business.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC